Major Emergency Exercise Brings Irish and EU Health Experts Together to Test Systems for Pandemic Preparedness
- Health and emergency response agencies from across Europe met at the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in Berlin to conduct a Tabletop Exercise (TTX) on pandemic preparedness
- Major milestone for the Horizon Europe project PANDEM-2 project which aims to improve the EU’s response to future pandemics
Wednesday 28th June: Last week, several EU health and emergency response agencies met at the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in Berlin to conduct a Tabletop Exercise (TTX) to test pandemic preparedness in the EU. This was a major milestone for PANDEM-2, the €10m EU-funded pandemic preparedness and response project coordinated by the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway).
Tabletop Exercises are simulated, interactive field exercises that test an organisation’s response to an emergency. They allow preparedness plans, policies and procedures to be tested, with clear definition of roles and responsibilities to respond to a future pandemic. National public health agencies from Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Romania, Portugal and Finland, the hospital Radboud University Medical Centre in the Netherlands participated in the exercise as well as first responders Austrian Red Cross, Italian Red Cross and Emergency Medical Services in Portugal. The Irish Defence Forces, who recently joined the Advisory Board of PANDEM-2, also participated in the exercise, bringing their extensive knowledge and defence sector experience in drills and exercises as well as experience gained during the Covid-19 response.
The aim of the TTX was to test national public health agencies’ responses to a cross-border health emergency using the PANDEM-2 tools. Two teams of pandemic managers comprising public health officials, clinicians, laboratory experts and first responders from the PANDEM-2 consortium took part in the TTX representing two neighbouring countries in Europe. The teams were required to respond to a series of simulated events following importation of cases of Ebola virus disease into their countries. Risk assessment and communication strategies with the public were assessed as part of emergency management of the outbreak. Biosecurity and biosafety measures relating to patient transport from airports to hospitals and handling of clinical specimens was also evaluated.
Speaking in Berlin, Professor Máire Connolly, (Coordinator of the PANDEM-2 project, and expert in Global Health at NUI Galway) said:
“This is a major milestone for the PANDEM-2 project. Tabletop Exercises are an important part of testing levels of preparedness for cross-border health emergencies. Building a pandemic preparedness training platform for Europe incorporating the experience of leading public health and emergency response agencies will help meet our goal of improving the EU’s response to future pandemics.”
PANDEM-2 aims to strengthen the EU’s response to future pandemics through the development of IT systems, supported by training for pandemic managers. A key objective of the project is to apply learnings from different responses to COVID-19, both in Ireland and in other EU Member States.
If you wish to arrange an interview with a project representative, please contact:
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Notes to Editor:
PANDEM-2 is an H2020 EU-funded project that aims to develop new solutions for efficient, EU-wide pandemic management. The goal of PANDEM-2 is to prepare Europe for future pandemics through innovations in technology and training and to build capacity between EU member states to respond to pandemics on a cross-border basis. The PANDEM-2 consortium comprises a total of 19 European partners with expertise in several key areas including epidemiology, software development, public health, and emergency care.
The PANDEM-2 Advisory Board is made up of international experts in pandemic preparedness and response from the WHO, ECDC, and the American Red Cross. The Advisory Board acts as an internal review panel, providing expertise to guide and inform project outputs to ensure applicability and long-term impact.
Robert Koch Institute
The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) is the German government’s central scientific institution in the field of biomedicine. It is one of the most important bodies for the safeguarding of public health in Germany.